Skip to content

77 Best Healthy Lunch Ideas for Weight Loss

Upgrade that sad brown bag lunch by whipping up one of these healthy recipes instead.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman
PIN Print

When you're looking to eat healthier and lose weight, you might assume that salads are always the best go-to option for a healthy lunch. After all, salads are packed with nutritious veggies, they're filling, and they're easy to eat in between meetings, which certainly makes for a convenient, healthy lunch idea. But eating salads nearly every day of the week can get boring fast, especially if you default to the same combination of ingredients day after day. And whether you're actively trying to lose weight or you're just trying to eat healthier in general, boring is your worst enemy: If you don't look forward to your meals, the more likely you are to stray from or abandon your plan altogether.

But don't worry, because when it comes to healthy lunch ideas, salads are just the tip of the low-calorie iceberg. To help you innovate and upgrade your sad brown bag lunch with more exciting healthy lunch ideas that still support your weight loss goals, we've rounded up over 77 deliciously inspiring recipes from the Eat This, Not That! recipes archive, and trust when we tell you these are anything but boring.

Each recipe for these healthy lunch ideas is packed with nutrients that can provide you with much-needed energy to get you through the rest of the day, helping you effectively change things up to your usual midday eating ritual while aiding in your weight loss efforts.

11 Food & Drink Combinations To Increase Weight Loss, Say Dietitians

Woman Working In Design Studio Having Lunch At Desk

What are some healthy lunch ideas?

You're probably searching for new healthy lunch ideas for one (or many) of the following reasons:

  1. It's lunchtime and you have no idea what to feed yourself.
  2. You're sick of eating salads or deli sandwiches every day.
  3. You'd like to start meal prepping your lunches.
  4. You simply want inspiration for how to switch up your routine.

Lucky for you, we have all your lunchtime needs covered—whether you're feeding yourself at home, at the office, or on the go. And if scrolling through all these recipes just feels like a lot, start with this basic cheat sheet featuring an overview of healthy lunch ideas worth trying:

Your lunch doesn't have to be a complicated pre-planned meal: You don't need to prepare a cooked dish like a steak sandwich or a mushroom pesto ravioli. When trying to come up with the best healthy lunch ideas to meet your needs, consider putting together your own bento boxes, a la Starbucks' Protein Box, that feature a little bit of everything you may want to snack on throughout the day.

Consider themes like:

  • Mediterranean lunch box: hummus and pita with a cucumber, tomato, onion, feta salad, and a side of kalamata olives
  • Breakfast-style lunch box: everything bagel pretzels, hard-boiled eggs, apple slices, cheddar cheese
  • Veggie lunch box: roasted chickpeas, fresh peppers, cucumbers, carrots, green goddess dressing, almonds

If you're in the market for some new healthy lunch, particularly those that can help with weight loss, here are dozens of our favorite recipes to make for our midday meal:

Asian-Inspired Tuna Burger with Wasabi Mayo

Asian tuna burgers with wasabi mayo
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Burger-lovers looking for a leaner alternative that's just as filling and delish, this healthy lunch idea is just for you. Made with protein- and omega-3-packed fresh tuna steak and spicy wasabi mayo, this finger-licking recipe is only 330 calories! And for the full burger lunch experience sans high calories, you can serve this sammy with a side of air fryer veggie chips.

Get our recipes for an Asian-Inspired Tuna Burger With Wasabi and Ranch-Flavored Veggie Chips

Chicken Panini With Mozzarella, Peppers, & Arugula

Paleo chicken panini with pesto and peppers
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Keep it simple with this chicken panini recipe: A light, healthy spread like pesto, a low-calorie cheese like fresh mozz, and a layer of lean white meat chicken deliver all the same flavor and a tasty crunch for a fraction of the calories. Using whole-grain bread will help keep you satisfied all afternoon.

Get our recipe for Chicken Panini with Mozzarella, Peppers, and Arugula.

Instant Pot Chicken Zoodle Soup

Whole30 instant pot chicken zoodle soup
Posie Brien/Eat This, Not That!

Chicken noodle soup is the ultimate comfort food, especially during the cold weather months. However, we've made a special, lower-calorie version of this already healthy lunch idea by swapping in zucchini noodles for regular noodles. This ingredient swap also makes this recipe gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30-approved.

Get our recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Zoodle Soup.

25 Best Food Swaps To Jumpstart Weight Loss

Healthier Orange Chicken

bowls of homemade orange chicken with chopsticks
Brie Passano

Are you craving your favorite Chinese takeout dish while dreaming of chicken dunked in that deliciously sweet orange sauce? Thanks to this healthier spin on a classic Chinese takeout favorite, you don't have to pay for delivery or lose sight of your weight loss goals to enjoy orange chicken right at home!

Get our recipe for Healthier Orange Chicken.

Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

Cheesy turkey meatloaf muffins
Waterbury Publicatons, Inc.

Because these mini meatloaves are baked in a muffin tin, you'll have enough room to roast some sides to go with this healthy lunch idea, as well. Try roasting carrots or roasting broccoli with some parmesan for the perfect complement.

Get our recipe for Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf Muffins.

Italian Tuna Melt

Healthy italian tuna melt
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

The tuna salad recipe used by most establishments tells all: They usually use two parts mayo to one part tuna. Our version replaces the bulk of the mayo with a considerably healthier supporting cast that adds to the flavor without adding extra fat: pesto, lemon juice, olives, and onions.

Get our recipe for a Quick & Easy Italian Tuna Melt.

Can Eating Too Much Canned Tuna Give You Mercury Poisoning?

Caprese Sandwich

Caprese sandwich
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This recipe requires absolutely no effort, save for about two minutes of slicing and two minutes of toasting. Plus, it morphs easily into other dishes. Not in the mood for a sandwich? Ditch the bread and eat this as a salad for one of the easiest healthy lunches you can throw together.

Get our recipe for The Quickest Caprese Sandwich.

Chicken Salad Sandwich With Curry & Raisins

Chicken salad sandwich with curry and raisins
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

We use a modest amount of olive oil-based mayo, then punch up the flavor with plump golden raisins and the complex savory notes of curry powder in this chicken salad sandwich recipe. Make a big batch of the salad as part of your weekly meal planning and work it into other sandwiches, stuffed in pitas, or crowning a bowl of mixed greens.

Get our recipe for Chicken Salad Sandwich With Curry and Raisins.

Carne Asada Burritos

Low-calorie carne asada burritos
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Our version of the carne asada burrito, modestly scaled-down compared to restaurant burritos, concentrates on the most important parts of the burrito: guac, black beans, and, above all, juicy chunks of marinated skirt steak.

Get our recipe for A Lighter Carne Asada Burrito.

9 Healthiest Dishes to Order at Taco Bell, According to Dietitians

Asian-Inspired Chicken Meatballs

Paleo asian chicken meatballs
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

These chicken meatballs are inspired by street-corner grills in Vietnam and Thailand, where ginger, garlic, and chiles reign supreme. With those bold flavors, plus the char of a hot charcoal grill, you won't need a fat-heavy mix of meat, or even a pile of spaghetti, to make an outstanding lunch with this chicken meatballs recipe. Serve them with steamed rice, cucumbers, maybe a bit of sauce, and big lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Get our recipe for Asian-Inspired Chicken Meatballs.

Fig, Prosciutto, & Goat Cheese Salad

Healthy fig and prosciutto salad
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Why eat a restaurant salad if it's going to cost you the calorie intake of more than a full-sized meal? Enter our healthy fig and prosciutto salad recipe. We pair strips of salty, intense prosciutto with juicy, ripe figs. Add the tang of fresh goat cheese and the subtle, earthy crunch of toasted pine nuts and this makes for one inspired salad.

Get our recipe for Simple & Healthy Fig, Prosciutto, & Goat Cheese Salad.

The 5 Best Low-Cholesterol Meats You Should Be Eating

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos With Salsa Verde

Chicken tacos with salsa verde
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Tossed with a good dose of bright, mildly spicy salsa verde, rotisserie chicken is the perfect filling for tacos, burritos, and even enchiladas. Indeed, there might not be a better way to use a supermarket rotisserie chicken. (We're partial to Costco's.)

Get our recipe for Easy Rotisserie Chicken Tacos With Salsa Verde.

Pesto Gnocchi With Green Beans & Tomatoes

Vegetarian pesto gnocchi with green beans and tomatoes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

When you make this pesto gnocchi, figure 2 tablespoons per plate—and throw in some healthy extras like tomatoes and green beans to bring substance and balance to the bowl.

Get our recipe for Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi with Green Beans and Tomatoes.

Mexican Quinoa & Chicken Salad

mexican quinoa and chicken salad on wooden cutting board with bowl of salsa
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Not sure how to incorporate quinoa into your day-to-day meals? This recipe is a great place to start. With salsa, black beans, corn, onion, and avocado, along with fresh herbs, this Mexican quinoa is a super-flavorful take on the superfood.

Get our recipe for Low-Calorie Mexican Quinoa and Chicken Salad.

Turkey BLT Salad

Turkey blt salad
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

When it comes to delicious sandwiches, a turkey BLT is hard to resist. But by converting the sandwich bread into a light sprinkling of a few crunchy croutons and compensating for that reduction in refined carbs with a pile of fresh lettuce and other veggies, you can maximize the healthiest parts of the turkey BLT equation. The handful of cubed deli turkey boosts the protein of this salad, and suddenly you have a healthy lunch of mouthwatering substance and style.

Get our recipe for a Protein-Packed Turkey BLT Salad.

Artichoke-Feta Quiche

Vegetarian artichoke feta quiche
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Most quiches suffer the burden of excessive amounts of heavy cream and cheese—and often a trans-fat-laden crust. This quiche dispenses with the heavy dose of dairy fat and instead gets its flavor and substance from antioxidant-dense sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and lean chicken sausage. It's one of our easiest healthy lunch ideas you can easily meal prep for the week.

Get our recipe for a Savory Artichoke-Feta Quiche.

Chicken Potstickers

Paleo chicken pot stickers
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Chicken potstickers aren't just meant to be eaten as an appetizer. Pair these potstickers with fresh vegetables and a salad, and you can easily add them to your list of healthy lunch ideas.

Get our recipe for Easy Chicken Pot Stickers.

Portobello Cheesesteak

Healthy portobello cheesesteak
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Unlike so many vegetarian dishes out there masquerading as healthier than the meaty creations they replace (yes, we're looking at you, 1,490-calorie mushroom burger from The Cheesecake Factory!), you could eat this cheesesteak seven days a week and end up slimmer than when you started. And trust us, you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it!

Get our recipe for a Portobello Cheesesteak.

Three-Cheese Ravioli With Cherry Tomatoes

Vegetarian 3 cheese ravioli with cherry tomatoes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This healthy lunch idea using a delicious ravioli recipe gives you the depth and nuance of creamy ricotta, smoky mozzarella, and salty, sharp Parmesan, plus a sauce that would make anything taste great.

Get our recipe for Three-Cheese Ravioli with Cherry Tomatoes.

 35+ Healthy Pasta Recipes for Weight Loss

Chicken Burgers with Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

Chicken burger with sundried tomato aolia
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Yes, burgers are one of the easiest foods to make, but coming up with recipes that would classify as a healthy lunch idea could prove challenging, especially when surrounded by convenient yet greasy, ultra-processed fast food burgers. However, when you make burgers yourself, you have more oversight and control over their nutritional content. It just depends on the ingredients used to make your burger and what you serve it with! We've gone ahead and helped you out by reinventing the chicken burger, using a lean grind of meat and a hugely flavorful—but surprisingly low-calorie—spiked mayo to deliver on the promise of a truly healthy burger you can happily indulge in.

Get our recipe for Quick Chicken Burgers With Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli.

 We Tried 5 Frozen Turkey Burgers & This Is the Best

Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers With Chipotle Honey Mustard

Gluten-free chicken fingers with chipotle honey
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Save the calories on those deep-fried chicken fingers and make your own version in the oven instead! Our sweet and spicy sauce kicks the taste up a notch, too, so you'll get a satisfying crunch from the panko bread crumbs, plus a mouthful of flavor.

Get our recipe for Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers with Chipotle Honey Mustard.

Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad

Grilled chicken salad with cranberries avocado and goat cheese
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Skip the boring salad you usually make for lunch and try this flavorful alternative. You won't ever have to worry about not feeling full after eating this superfood-packed salad, which unites arugula with cranberries, avocado, goat cheese, and walnuts.

Get our recipe for The Ultimate Grilled Chicken & Avocado Salad.

21 Superfoods That Are Surprisingly High in Protein, Say Dietitians

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Vegetarian grilled cheese and tomato soup
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Our grilled cheese is a play on that gooey hot sammie staple, pimento cheese, which diffuses the calories of the cheese with healthy additions like roasted peppers and Greek yogurt. The soup? Pure tomato intensity, thanks to the oven roasting, which concentrates the natural sugars of the tomatoes. It has all the comfort with half the calories—making it one of our favorite healthy lunch recipes.

Get our recipe for the Best-Ever Classic Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Healthy chinese chicken salad
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

With mandarins and toasted almonds, this salad is a great healthy lunch idea that can fuel weight loss via a filling blend of nutrient-dense sweet and savory flavors.

Get our recipe for Healthy Chinese Chicken Salad.

Clam Chowder

Healthy clam chowder
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

I bet you never expected to see a chowder rank among our list of healthy lunch ideas. But our take on this classic soup is lower in calories than your standard clam chowder. So, say goodbye to all that cream with our healthier spin on this soup. (But, don't worry—there's still bacon!)

Get our recipe for A Lighter Clam Chowder.

Copycat Wendy's Chili

wendy's copycat chili in three bowls on a marble counter with cheese and sour cream
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Skip the line (and the calories) at Wendy's and make your own version of their chili instead! Thanks to a clear list of ingredients on Wendy's website, we modified this recipe to be one of the easiest healthy lunch ideas to throw together for a healthy and satisfying meal.

Get our recipe for Copycat Wendy's Chili.

The Wendy's Breakfast Menu—Ranked by Nutrition!

Crispy Crumb-Topped Mac & Cheese Cups

Crispy crumb topped mac and cheese cups
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

You may not believe us, but we did figure out a healthy lunch idea that involves eating vegetables that taste like mac and cheese. How, you ask? By making these mac and cheese cups with veggie elbow macaroni! Sneak in some extra vegetable nutrients by swapping out regular elbow macaroni with veggie elbow macaroni!

Get our recipe for Crispy Crumb-Topped Mac & Cheese Cups.

Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo

Healthy red pepper alfredo
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you're looking for a pasta-centric healthy lunch idea that's in line with your weight loss goals, this fettuccine Alfredo recipe starts with a béchamel sauce, then blends it with roasted red peppers for a lighter, brighter, better Alfredo—for a quarter of the calories.

Get our recipe for A Buttery Red Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo.

Low-Calorie Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

Low-calorie cheesesteak sandwich
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Our version of the cheesesteak sandwich—which relies on a lean flank steak, a whole-wheat roll, and a yogurt-based blue cheese sauce—is a bit fancier than the original sandwich from the City of Brotherly Love. But to our tastes, it's also better. How often does better and lower fat happen in the same sentence?

Get our recipe for A Low-Calorie Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich.

Gnocchi With Peas and Prosciutto

Healthy gnocchi with peas and prosciutto
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Here, we take the classic Italian pasta pairing of peas and prosciutto, replace the noodles with dumplings, and throw in plenty of asparagus to round out the creation. You can make this gnocchi recipe richer with a drizzle of cream or half-and-half or a bit of butter, but this one is great as is.

Get our recipe for A Quick Gnocchi with Peas & Prosciutto.

Italian Meatball Soup

Paleo meatball soup
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This healthy lunch idea is a warm bowl of goodness that's a breeze to throw together. Plus, if you're a fan of meal prepping, make a large portion that will last for more than one day's lunch.

Get our recipe for Hearty Italian Meatball Soup.

5-Day Diabetes Meal Plan to Balance Blood Sugar

Spicy Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Potato Fries

Whole30 Spicy Meatballs with sweet potato fries
Posie Brien/Eat This, Not That!

These lean turkey baked meatballs pack a punch of spice, and are the perfect comfort food for a Whole30 diet—not to mention, a super yummy healthy lunch idea that's great for weight loss. These meatballs are flavorful, thanks to the dried herbs and fresh chopped parsley, while almond meal keeps them moist, standing in for the breadcrumbs. In addition to being Whole30-approved, this meal is also gluten-free.

Get our recipe for Spicy Turkey Meatballs with Sweet Potato Fries.

Avocado Crispbreads With Everything Bagel Seasoning

avocado crisps with lemon and radish
Carlene Thomas/ Eat This, Not That!

To take this meal on the go (or use up slightly mushy avocados), turn it into a dip by mashing the avocado and mixing in the bagel seasoning and lemon juice in a small to-go container. Top with freshly chopped dill and radish slices and dip!

Get our recipe for Avocado Crispbreads with Everything Bagel Seasoning.

How To Prevent Avocados From Going Bad Too Quickly, According to Chefs

Minestrone With Pesto

Healthy minestrone with pesto
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This healthy minestrone soup recipe is a hodgepodge of veggies that will go a long way in making sure your diet is not lacking in its necessary greenery. Vary the specific vegetables depending on what's in your fridge and what looks good in the market, but be sure to finish with a spoonful of jarred pesto, which helps tie the whole bowl together.

Get our recipe for Veggie-Packed Minestrone With Pesto.

 Secrets for Making the Best Pesto Ever, Says Chef

Loaded Alfredo Pasta with Chicken & Vegetables

Healthy loaded alfredo with chicken and veggies
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Here's how restaurants make Alfredo: cream, butter, and cheese. We ditched the cream and made a basic béchamel sauce with flour, milk, butter, and Parmesan in our version of an Alfredo pasta recipe. We solved the other major shortcoming of pasta Alfredo (that is, a lack of any real nutrition) by adding chicken, broccoli, mushrooms, and, for good measure, sun-dried tomatoes.

Get our recipe for Loaded Alfredo Pasta with Chicken & Vegetables.

Spinach & Ham Quiche

Low-calorie spinach and ham quiche
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

It's the low-calorie dish you can have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Get our recipe for an Easy Spinach & Ham Quiche.

Thai-Inspired Beef Lettuce Wraps

Low-calorie thai beef lettuce wraps
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Now wraps at places like P.F. Chang's and The Cheesecake Factory are overwrought affairs packing as many calories into an appetizer as you should have in an entire meal. Consider this version a blissful, healthy, flavor-packed return to the wrap's humble roots, and you'll save hundreds of calories in the process.

Get our recipe for Thai-Inspired Beef Lettuce Wraps.

Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Sandwich

Paleo grilled chicken pineapple sandwich
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Our sandwich is a spicy-sweet combination of teriyaki-glazed chicken, juicy grilled pineapple, and fiery jalapeños—a chicken sandwich to end all fatty chicken sandwiches. Trust us: You won't miss the fried versions at all once you sink your teeth into this sweet and savory combination.

Get our recipe for Spicy-Sweet Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Sandwich.

Baked Crab Cakes with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Paleo crab cakes
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Forget splurging for a fried restaurant version when you can make this one right at home. It's one of those healthy lunch recipes you're going to want to meal prep over-and-over again.

Get our recipe for Baked Crab Cakes with Mango-Avocado Salsa.

30 Healthy Lent-Friendly Recipes for Weight Loss

Southwest Turkey Burger

Low-calorie southwest turkey burger
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

A few years back, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's reached out to us and asked for help designing a new line of turkey burgers that would improve on an otherwise high-calorie menu. A lot of time and testing went into the burgers, during which we learned just how well turkey takes to intense, vibrant flavors that might not jibe as well with beef. In the end, this spicy-cool burger didn't make it on the menu, but it remains one of the best turkey burgers we've had. Now, with this turkey burger recipe, you can judge for yourself…

Get our recipe for A Spicy-Cool Southwest Turkey Burger.

Italian Sausage Soup

Paleo italian sausage soup
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

You can load this one full of vegetables, doubling the amount used below, and end up with a chunky, sausage-strewn minestrone. And if you want to cut out the pasta altogether, replace the farfalle with your favorite brown rice or quinoa. Either way, this Italian sausage soup is hearty enough to work for dinner if it's too heavy for lunch.

Get our recipe for Hearty Italian Sausage Soup.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Low-calorie grilled caesar salad
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This recipe transforms the high-calorie dressing into a lighter vinaigrette and adds substance, flavor, and nutrition in the form of sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Think of this as the Caesar salad, reimagined.

Get our recipe for a Healthier Grilled Caesar Salad.

Chili-Mango Stir Fry Chicken

Paleo chili-mango chicken
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Skip Chinese takeout for lunch and throw together a few containers of this chili-mango chicken instead. Serve on rice, or keep it low-carb by serving it with some cauliflower rice.

Get our recipe for Chili-Mango Stir Fry Chicken.

Grilled Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Sandwich

healthy buffalo chicken and blue cheese sandwich
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

In this healthier buffalo chicken sandwich recipe, we stay true to the flavors people love by basting the chicken in hot sauce and butter after grilling, topping with a yogurt-based blue cheese sauce—but manage to do what no one else out there has done yet: make Buffalo chicken into a healthy meal.

Get our recipe for Grilled Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Sandwich.

Margarita Chicken

Paleo margarita chicken 
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Our version of margarita chicken—a meal that you can have on the table in 20 minutes—contains all the same bells and whistles (Cheese! Salsa! Sizzle!), minus all the added calories and dollars spent on eating at a restaurant. You're going to want to add this to your list of healthy lunch ideas, trust us.

Get our recipe for The Easiest Margarita Chicken.

Mac & Cheese

Healthy mac and cheese
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Mac and cheese on a list of healthy lunch recipes? No, we're not kidding! To keep this mac and cheese on the lighter side, you can't go wrong with Greek yogurt mixed in to bring all the creaminess without adding too much fat.

Get our recipe for Healthier Mac and Cheese.

 The Worst Mac and Cheese Dishes in America

Caprese Tomato Salad Towers

Vegetarian caprese tomato towers
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

The classic tomato salad from Capri, Italy, is a study in simplicity: sweet, acidic tomatoes contrasted with creamy mozzarella slabs and the bright herbal bite of fresh basil, yet with a complex taste you'll crave.

Get our recipe for a Caprese Tomato Salad Tower.

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Healthy spinach & goat cheese salad with apples & warm bacon dressing
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

With the addition of caramelized apples, toasted pecans, and creamy goat cheese, this retro spinach salad finally achieves perfect harmony with nearly half of the caloric intake as a similar salad in a restaurant.

Get our recipe for Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing.

Turkey Bolognese with Fettuccine

Low-calorie bolognese fettuccine turkey
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Pasta is forever a go-to comfort food, and this recipe makes for the perfect, good-for-you dish you can indulge in. It's certainly not a boring desk salad, making it the perfect addition to your rotation of healthy lunch recipes.

Get our recipe for Hearty Turkey Bolognese with Fettuccine.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

low-calorie tortilla soup
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Between the pulled chicken, the soothing tomato broth, and the pile of fixings, what's not to love?

Get our recipe for Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup.

 The Best Soup In Every State

Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri Sauce

Healthy grilled chicken sandwich with chimichurri
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This grilled chicken sandwich delivers heroic flavor by employing chimichurri, an Argentine herb-based sauce that would make shoe leather taste like fine dining, along with a solid supporting cast of sweet peppers, sharp raw onions, and peppery greens. Good luck finding a side salad, let alone a real sandwich, at a restaurant for 310 calories.

Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chimichurri Sauce.

Slow Cooker Beef Goulash

slow cooker beef goulash in a white serving dish
Jason Donnelly

Now, you might be thinking that a goulash—which is a meat and veggie stew—would require a lot of time, but our recipe is made for your slow cooker. All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients into it, and let the time-saving appliance work its magic while you do whatever it is you need to do. It's that easy!

Get our recipe for The Easiest Slow Cooker Beef Goulash.

Slow Cooker Cuban Tomato & Black Bean Soup

cuban tomato and black bean soup
Jason Donnelly

Low in calories, but high in flavor? Yes, this flavorful black bean soup really hits the spot. Plus, it's perfect for cooking ahead and enjoying all week.

Get our recipe for Slow Cooker Cuban Tomato & Black Bean Soup.

 14 High-Protein Beans—Ranked!

Chicken Fried Rice

Healthy chicken fried rice
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

With yummy veggies and brown rice to keep you full all day, why bother turning to the takeout menu when you can make this delicious restaurant-quality dish yourself at home?

Get our recipe for A Healthier Takeout-Level Chicken Fried Rice.

Slow Cooker Green Chile Pork Soup

green chile pork soup and bread
Jason Donnelly

This soup is infused with pork, beans, peppers, russet potatoes, onions, and roasted corn, which gives it a hearty texture that's actually filling—no limp noodles and broth here! It's low in calories and will give you 25 grams of protein, plus six grams of fiber, meaning it's a great healthy lunch recipe for weight loss.

Get our recipe for Hearty Slow Cooker Green Chile Pork Soup.

Open-Face Hot Ham & Cheese with Chipotle Mayo

open face hot ham cheese chipotle mayo
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

This may seem like a breakfast recipe, but trust us, it's just as delicious as lunch. An open-face sandwich is an easy way to cut back on calories because there is only one slice of bread, so you can still satisfy your sandwich craving and reach your weight loss goals.

Get our recipe for Open-Face Hot Ham & Cheese with Chipotle Mayo.

Chicken Fajita Burrito

Healthy chicken fajita burrito
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

This burrito is American in spirit, which is to say it's hearty and generously filled, but without the caloric excesses found at Chipotle Mexican Grill and the rest of the country's fast-food burrito barons. We've not only made this recipe so that it will save you in calories, but it's also quick and easy to make, so it'll save you time, too.

Get our recipe for Protein-Packed Chicken Fajita Burritos.

 21 Best Healthy Baked Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss

Cranberry Mustard Mini Tuna Melts

Cranberry mustard mini tuna melts
Waterbury Publicatons, Inc.

This tuna melt recipe is one of a kind, simply by the way it is made. Similar to an open-face tuna melt, these have a bread base with a cheesy, tuna salad filling on top. Assembling them is much easier than you think—perfect for your weekly meal prep.

Get our recipe for Cranberry Mustard Mini Tuna Melts.

Acai Bowl

acai bowl with blueberries and kiwi in white bowl with spoon
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Once you've seen how easy it can be to make this smoothie bowl, you might just bid your morning (or midday!) smoothie goodbye. Either way, it's one nutritious acai bowl recipe you'll want to keep in your back pocket for those days you're craving a sweeter meal. Plus, it's so pretty, you'll definitely want to 'gram it.

Get our recipe for An Easy, Healthy Acai Bowl.

Broccoli-Cheese Eggs in a Mug

broccoli cheese eggs in mugs with forks
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

This easy, nutrient-rich meal takes just five minutes to make, and it's even easier if you chop the vegetables ahead of time. All you need is a mug, some cooking spray, and a microwave, and you'll have a filling meal ready to go in no time. And with just 314 calories and 519 milligrams of sodium per serving, this mug recipe is way healthier than many of the grab-and-go breakfast options out there.

Get our recipe for Broccoli-Cheese Eggs in a Mug.

Mason Jar Bean, Salmon, & Kale Salad

Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Mason jar salads are an easy way to make your healthy lunch recipes ahead of time for the week, so you won't be tempted to buy lunch after you get to the office. This recipe will take a bit of work, including cooking the salmon fillets. However, it will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days, so one day's worth of prep will give you four salads to tuck away.

Get our recipe for Mason Jar Bean, Salmon, & Kale Salad.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

Vegetarian warm goat cheese salad
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

If you want to lose weight and drop at least 15 pounds this year, replace every restaurant salad you eat with a homemade version. Start with this one: The warm goat cheese crouton and sweet, crisp pear will make a salad believer out of anyone. It's basically the goat cheese salad recipe to end all other salads.

Get our recipe for A Restaurant-Worthy Warm Goat Cheese Salad.

Butternut Squash Pasta Salad

Butternut squash pasta salad
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

If you're looking for easy, healthy lunch recipes for weight loss, but you're tired of lettuce-based salads, this butternut squash pasta salad recipe will be a game-changer. Like other Mason jar salads, this recipe can be made in advance, and it's packed full of nutritious veggies.

Get our recipe for An Easy Butternut Squash Pasta Salad.

Cinnamon-Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Wild Rice

mason jars of sweet potato salad with rice
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Think Mason jars are just for drinks or packing lettuce-based salads? Think again. This sweet potato salad puts a new spin on the term, layering cinnamon-roasted sweet potato pieces with shredded chicken, carrots, and plenty of seasoning. Combined with a serving of wild rice, this is a full meal in a jar.

Get our recipe for Cinnamon-Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Wild Rice.

Fried Rice Cups

Fried rice cups
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Craving Chinese food, but don't feel like spending the money? Before splurging on some pork fried rice and egg rolls again, why not try making some delicious fried rice at home? This fried rice cups recipe will make perfect portions of fried rice while keeping that calorie count nice and low!

Get our recipe for Quick & Healthy Fried Rice Cups.

Spinach-Pomegranate Salad With Roasted Turkey

mason jar salad with spinach, turkey, cara cara oranges, and pomegranate seeds on wooden tray with jar of nuts and white plate
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

With 21 grams of protein and four grams of fiber, this salad is as satisfying as it is pretty. And thanks to the layered Mason jar technique, you can make this salad up to three days ahead of time. Just don't pour the dressing on until you're ready to eat it—you don't want to end up with a soggy salad.

Get our recipe for A Quick Spinach-Pomegranate Salad With Roasted Turkey.

Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Crock pot chicken noodle soup with bread on a table.
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Instead of buying the soup, salad, and breadsticks lunch deal over at Olive Garden, you can have an easy (and healthy) version of it right at home. This recipe is delectable with some freshly baked bread (like a sourdough baguette) and a fresh, crispy garden salad with some Italian dressing. It's one of the easiest healthy lunch recipes to meal prep.

Get our recipe for Cozy Crock-Pot Chicken Noodle Soup.

Mini Pizzas

Low-calorie mini pizzas 3 ways
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

Personal pies are the bane of the pizza experience. Many pizza joints load individual pizzas with more than a day's worth of fat and sodium. English muffins, though, come with built-in portion control, so no matter how lavishly you adorn them, you won't break the 400-calorie barrier. To meal prep, simply make these healthy lunch recipes and store them in the fridge. Pop them in the microwave at work to enjoy later!

Get our recipe for Mini Pizzas, Three Ways.

Crock-Pot Italian Meatballs

Crock pot Italian meatballs with spaghetti
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

This slow cooker recipe will create a delectable homemade sauce as the Italian meatballs start to cook. Plus, the slow cooker does all the heavy lifting while you go about your business, then enjoy the fruits of your labor all week.

Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Italian Meatballs.

Ultimate Club Sandwich With Super Mayo

Healthy ultimate club sandwich with super mayo
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

With ham, turkey, bacon, and mayo, you won't believe this hearty sandwich is under 350 calories.

Get our recipe for Ultimate Club Sandwich With Super Mayo.

Lamb Kofte Kebabs With Tahini Garlic Sauce

lamb kebabs on a plate with pomegranate seeds and fresh veggies

This recipe can be served on a skewer, but can also be put into a pita bread as a sandwich or served on a bed of rice with tahini sauce.

Get our recipe for Lamb Kofte Kebabs With Tahini Garlic Sauce.

Chicken Ramen With Shiitake Mushrooms & Spinach

Paleo chicken ramen
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

This paleo recipe not only packs in the protein and fiber, but it also adds even more nutritional value than the usual ramen noodle package at the store. With real chicken, vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs, this homemade ramen will nourish your body with nutrients, plus filling protein to keep you satiated. Bonus: it's also lower in sodium than the store-bought counterpart!

Get our recipe for Chicken Ramen With Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach.

Tomato Chicken Curry With Cauliflower Rice

Paleo tomato chicken curry recipe
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Looking for something on the spicier side? By using a jalapeño in the recipe, this tomato chicken curry comes with a slight kick, but between the sweetness of the coconut milk and the acidity of the crushed tomatoes, it's the perfect lunch or dinner dish no matter the season.

Get our recipe for Paleo Tomato Chicken Curry With Cauliflower Rice.

Bacon-Chile Burger With Guacamole & Fresh Salsa

Paleo bacon chile burger
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Adding a slice of cheese will certainly help with satiety on a traditional burger, but for those who are paleo, guacamole is a great alternative. Not only is avocado a natural appetite suppressant, but it is also the perfect food for weight loss. So spoon on some delicious guacamole and fresh salsa on your burger—your stomach will thank you!

Get our recipe for Paleo Bacon-Chile Burgers With Guacamole & Fresh Salsa.

Arugula & Grapefruit Salad With Dill Ranch Dressing & Pumpkin Seeds

keto arugula grapefruit salad
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

Finding keto-friendly healthy lunch recipes can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be. There are plenty of foods that still let you get all the flavor you love, all while following the low-carb meal plan. This arugula and grapefruit salad recipe is meant to be a side dish, but you can easily make it a full meal by adding protein and fat.

Get our recipe for Arugula & Grapefruit Salad With Dill Ranch Dressing & Pumpkin Seeds.

Avocado Soup With Chile-Lime Pepitas

keto avocado soup in bowl with spoon
Waterbury Publications, Inc.

If you're in the mood for a light, refreshing, and low-carb soup, you'll rejoice at this simple soup recipe that packs a ton of flavor but is completely keto-friendly. This creamy chilled keto soup uses all the flavor components we crave in Mexican food—heat from the serrano chiles and ancho chili powder, aroma of the cumin and cilantro, and the zing of lime juice. And best of all, the crave-able taste of avocado.

Get our recipe for An Easy & Healthy Avocado Soup With Chile-Lime Pepitas.

Instant Pot Cauliflower 'Mac' & Cheese

scoop of cheesy cauliflower mac and cheese from an instant pot
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Turn your favorite comfort food dish into a low-carb healthy lunch idea using your Instant Pot!

Get our recipe for Instant Pot Cauliflower "Mac" and Cheese.

A previous version of this story was originally published in 2016. It has since been updated to include additional entries, proofreading revisions, additional research, and updated contextual links. All recipes are original.

2.8/5 (15 Reviews)
Jordan Powers Willard
Jordan Powers Willard is a former Deputy Editor for Eat This, Not That! Read more about Jordan